Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Theo McKinney on melding artistry, music, (a new slant on the age-old question “Where do your ideas come from?), threads of the infinite fabric

Theo McKinney, Close-up and Personal

Riehlife: Theo, how have you brought your artistry and music into your work as Experience Manager?

Theo: I loved Saha, the restaurant inside the hotel, so much that I wanted to be a part of it somehow. I got the restaurant management to let me design and execute the stained glass effect in the restaurant, and create the array of frames on that far wall, a wall divider, and the overhead lighting fixtures (not the 5 cool glass ones, though, although they were very inspiring).

Nutty side note: In the spirit of being green, I intentionally used only recycled or recyclable materials to create the look. (And believe it or, not, I even intentionally did all the materials transportation for the project by mass transit, so no personal vehicles were used. I just thought that would be a quirky detail that would be fun to share; “Yes, my friends it's easy being green.”)

[Rather than colored glass the effect comes from] a decoupage of translucent papers and acetates pasted onto translucent panels...which is wonderfully forgiving as media goes...especially all the way up there [when working up high].

I'm looking into getting live music to happen during and after the Carlton evening wine service. I performed a few times already and...well, I liked it. Deep inside, I'm hoping it's that serendipity happening again: I can think of a lot of week-end musicians like myself who have nowhere to play...and some of them ---like myself--- would gladly do it for free, including our more musical guests. Semi-impromptu gatherings like these are what people who come to SF expect to experience, I think.

Riehlife: Theo, what do you and your artistic talents do when your not working at the Carlton?

When I grow up though, I'd love some day to have a music career so I can write screenplays in my spare time, and play my music for money. As of now, only my closest friends have even seen one of my many screenplays, and only my very forgiving neighbors get to hear my music, but my very next life project it to get some kind of band going again. My last had to disperse after the dot.com boom/bust, because no one in my band could afford to stay in SF anymore!

To date, I am still making up for the loss of my previous weekend band by cultivating tons of original songs and lyrics including a libretto for an original rock opera. It’s set in the 1490's using the vocabulary and specific rhyming meters of the day selected for each character, and kind of a "Jethro Tull and Metallica meet Enya" sound. Yes, there's even a song about the Hotel Carlton, one that was purposely very1920's, in honor of the building's age-old duty serving as a hotel in such an important and interesting city.

Riehlife: Theo, you strike me as someone a bit like myself who is a generalist in an age of specialists. You diverge and you converge, but then you come back to the nexus, the gathering place. Have you ever thought of yourself as a poet?

Theo: Yes, strangely I have! I recently read somewhere how, for most people, obstacles instantly kill too many ideas, whereas for poets, obstacles instantly create too many ideas. For better or worse, that fits my relationship to this crazy world.

Sometimes the ideas come from such weird places so fast that I can't help getting them into some kind of art code, so I can then step back and maybe be able to figure out what it's all supposed to mean by the time it's all over.

It all seems to be the same language though. Even with my hotel rent-and-food job. As I get older, I keep suspecting that there's just this infinite alphabet of shapes, sounds and experiences out there that make up that code and it keeps trying to tell me something. I don't adhere to any one religion so I'm hoping all the chatter has just been whoever God is, whispering in my ear.

Riehlife: Yes, I think you have the sensibility of a poet...because you see the connections and the threads. That's what my blog is dedicated to revealing in as many permutations as I can discover.

Theo: As for "The Threads"?

Yes, it seems to me that we must all be the individual threads in some kind of infinite fabric, where what may appear to the near-sighted as holes in the fabric might just end up being the key details of some beautifully crafted swath of lace perfectly knitted lace, where the juxtaposition of all these so-called "holes" mean everything to the Grand Design. We all belong; it only takes backing away occasionally to take The Universe in, as a whole, to see it.

Keep up the blog, it's a great focus; personally speaking, this conversation has all been cathartic with some interesting timing. I really have to thank you for that.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

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2 Responses »

  1. "an original rock opera . . .set in the 1490's using the vocabularyand specific rhyming meters of the day . . . [with] even a song . . .that was purposely very 1920's"

    This idea is melting my mind! What an imagination. . . . 1490s and flappers?!

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